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Jul 16, 2020

The Dirty Awesome Truth About Summer Camp

For a lot of kids, paradise is sleepaway summer camp—especially a camp that lets you do crazy stupid things and get really, really dirty. (Photo: Lorado/iStock)
Mud Run Friends

There’s this misguided notion that the ultimate kid’s paradise would look something like a cross between Disneyland and Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory. The truth is that for a lot of kids, paradise is nothing like that. Instead, it’s sleepaway summer camp—especially a camp that lets you do crazy stupid things and get really, really dirty. In this second installment of our two-part exploration of the specialness and weirdness of camp, we present a collection of stories that capture camps and campers at their edgy extremes. There’s the kid who hitchhiked around a difficult hike, the boy who dove into a campground toilet to save a cookpot, the counselors who harvested wildlife for dinner, and the camp that staged the most epic game of capture the flag in human history. This is camp as it really happens.


This episode of the Outside Podcast is sponsored by L.L. Bean, a company that wants to show you how to enjoy summer without straying far from home. See their Staycation Summer Guide at llbean.com/staycationsummer

Outside Podcast listeners get 15 percent off online orders from now through August 15. Go to llbean.com and enter the promo code “OUTSIDE” at checkout.

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Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will both entertain and inform listeners. We launched in March 2016 with our first series, Science of Survival, which was developed in partnership with PRX, distributors of the idolized This American Life and The Moth Radio Hour, among others. We have since expanded our show and now offer a range of story formats, including interviews with the biggest figures in sports, adventure, and politics, as well as reports from our correspondents in the field.